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Pocket Veto

A pocket veto is a legislative tactic that allows the president to indirectly veto a bill.

The U.S. Constitution requires the President to sign a bill within the 10 days if Congress is in session. If Congress is in session and the president fails to sign the bill, it becomes law without his signature.

However, if Congress adjourns before the ten days are up and the President does not sign the bill, it will not become law. Ignoring it — or putting it in your pocket — has been called a pocket veto.

This action is characterized by the deliberate inaction of the executive, who opts not to sign or explicitly veto the bill, allowing it to expire.

The pocket veto is a powerful and strategic tool in the executive’s arsenal, as it prevents the legislative body from overriding the veto with a two-thirds majority vote, which is often the case with a standard or “return” veto.

The advantages and implications of the pocket veto include:

Avoiding direct confrontation: By using a pocket veto, the executive avoids openly challenging the legislative body and creating a contentious political atmosphere. This tactic can be particularly useful when the executive seeks to maintain a working relationship with the legislature or avoid public backlash.

Circumventing the override: Unlike a standard veto, the pocket veto cannot be overridden by a supermajority vote in the legislature. This provides the executive with a more secure method of preventing unwanted legislation from becoming law.

Limiting legislative power: The pocket veto is an effective check on the power of the legislative body. By employing this tactic, the executive can prevent the legislature from passing laws that may be contrary to the executive’s policy agenda or political goals.

Political implications: The pocket veto can carry significant political implications for both the executive and legislators. For the executive, using a pocket veto can demonstrate decisiveness and control over policy outcomes. For legislators, a pocket veto can serve as a signal that their policy priorities do not align with the executive’s, potentially leading to electoral consequences.

Examples of “Pocket Veto” in a sentence:

  • The president employed a pocket veto to prevent the controversial bill from becoming law, avoiding a direct confrontation with Congress.
  • Legislators were frustrated by the pocket veto, as it circumvented their ability to override the president’s decision with a two-thirds majority vote.
  • The use of a pocket veto in this case illustrates the delicate balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, highlighting the importance of checks and balances in the political system.